While the historical SUV may have all the luxurious accouterments and on-road manners of the Mulsanne sedan it has replaced, the 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB also has some unexpected off-road capabilities.
Say the name Bentley, and the image of a lavishly equipped luxury sedan is likely to pop into your mind. Though the British marque has produced some of the world’s most exclusive four-door models over the last century, this SUV has become the most popular model in its storied history.
As we drift along a narrow gravel path in Whistler, British Columbia, we spot large footprints in a sandy outcropping. Our guide nonchalantly points to a spruce tree, its bark nearly clawed away, and says, “This is bear country. Mostly brown bears, though we could run into a couple of grizzlies.”
I’d be more worried if I weren’t comfortably — and securely — ensconced inside a Bentley Bentayga EWB. Even a grizzly would have a tough time taking on this big beast — or so I’ve convinced myself.
2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB Review: From Sea to Sky
We begin the morning down in cosmopolitan Vancouver. The extended-wheelbase SUV fits easily into one of the wealthiest cities in Canada. But I’ve got other plans for the day, so I cross over the Lions Gate Bridge, and then head north on the Sea to Sky Highway. Bypassing Whistler resort, my co-driver and I head into the Fitzsimmons Range.
Reaching the former Olympic park, I’m handed a small walkie-talkie and told to follow one of the local rangers. He takes the lead in his modified Jeep Wrangler, quickly turning off onto a gravel trail that, at first, seems far too narrow and twisty to accommodate something as large as the extended-wheelbase Bentayga.
The original version of the SUV that debuted in 2015 was far from lithe. The 2023 EWB adds another 7.1 inches of wheelbase and 8.1 inches of overall length — growing to 125.0 and 208.9 inches, respectively. Most of that goes into the rear seat, which now offers a business jet-style seating option.
Steering Out of Trouble
Approaching a sharp corner as we wind our way up a steep hill, I’d normally start wondering if there’s enough room to maneuver a K-turn. But not in the EWB, which manages the turn almost as nimbly as my guide’s Wrangler.
The Bentley’s new rear-wheel-steer system can turn up to 4.1 degrees. In town or on the trail, the back wheels turn counter to the front tires, making it surprisingly easy to crank or park.
At highway speeds, the back wheels turn in sync with the front tires, notably enhancing its cornering manners. The 2023 Bentayga EWB has a turning circle of just 38.7 feet, a full 2 feet shorter than the standard-length SUV, and only slightly more than the Jeep I’m following.
The stretched SUV draws power from the same 4.0L, twin-turbocharged V8 used in the standard-length Bentayga. With a menacing roar when you hammer the throttle, it delivers 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque through a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. That’s enough to launch you to 60 in as little as 4.5 seconds.
On a steep trail, torque matters most — that and Bentayga’s competent all-wheel-drive system that works in sync with the ute’s electronically locking Torsen differential. Using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel, I slowly trudge up the hillside, the tires only occasionally sliding on the loose gravel before regaining grip.
From Rough to Smooth
I watch the passengers in the Wrangler tossed about as they negotiate the trail. The Bentayga’s air suspension system proves surprisingly effective at soaking up all but the harshest bumps.
As we finish our run through the park — never managing to spot any bears — we head back out onto the highway. Now, it’s time to enjoy the other side of the Bentayga EWB’s personality.
My test vehicle is an Azure model, part of a new Bentley sub-brand emphasizing “comfort and wellness.” While there are three different seating configurations for up to five occupants, our Azure can handle just four.
Its cavernous rear “lounge” has business jet-style seats equipped with 22-way power adjustments. There’s even a body-monitoring sensing system that automatically adjusts the four-zone climate control if it senses a passenger getting too hot or cold.
During a long ride, it will adjust automatic bolsters to help stretch your muscles and improve blood flow — and it turns on its auto-massage function.
Add features like active noise cancellation, an air ionizer, and a super-premium audio system and you may not ever want to leave your sanctuary.
Final Touches & 64 Billion Options
On the open road, the 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB is competent and comfortable. It has gobs of power and, as mentioned, is more nimble than you might expect in corners.
What’s particularly impressive is how that air suspension system can transform a 7,200-pound behemoth into a rolling magic carpet, even while avoiding the disconnected feeling of so many boulevard cruisers.
As one might expect from Bentley, the Bentayga EWB is lavishly executed, with an endless options list of woods, leathers, metal, and more exotic finishes inside. Add all the exterior trim options and, according to Bentley’s sales chief, a buyer can choose from a total of 64 billion different build combinations.
As for the exterior, the Bentayga EWB hews closely to the design of the shorter model, while adding a few distinctive touches including a vertical vane grille styled to look like cut crystal. Bentley designers did an impressive job, highlighting the added dimensions without turning the Bentayga into a high-priced bus.
A curvaceous crease flows through the rear doors, downplaying the fact they’re 7 inches longer than on the standard-wheelbase model. Inside, a button on the rear seat center console automatically closes those big doors so a passenger doesn’t have to strain.
2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB: Availability & Pricing
The EWB will share showroom space with the standard-length Bentayga when it arrives this autumn. Bentley officials anticipate the SUV will account for about 45% of global sales. That number could run even higher in the U.S.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in an SUV that’s more than just an on-road poseur, the 2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB just might be what you’re looking for — as long as you’ve got the $229,625 starting price. And just how far up you can go depends solely on your imagination. You’ve got 64 billion potential combinations to choose from.